As technology becomes more accessible, people find new uses for familiar things. Tech-savvy crafters discover vinyl cutters and realize there are all kinds of things around them that cry out for decals. And as decals proliferate in our world, professional sign makers find new markets for vinyl with their core customers. Retailers, realtors and other traditional customers now want to customize their worlds too.
Many of these new applications are indoors on walls, windows, and floors. As vinyl increasingly moves indoors, traditional glossy films are less practical. Indoor signage must deal with multiple light sources and therefore, distracting reflections. Matte vinyl to the rescue! Sure, removable matte vinyl has been around for over a decade. But it has its limitations. The new wave of indoor commercial and craft vinyl applications calls for something more permanent and easier to apply. These are a few of the reasons ORAFOL recently added 21 new matte colors to ORACAL 641 economy calendared vinyl.
ORACAL already has an economy matte calendared vinyl in 631, so what makes 641 Matte vinyl different?
Before we tackle the 631 vs 641 matte question, let’s review some basics. ORACAL 641 is an economy calendared self-adhesive film. It’s a monomeric PVC vinyl with a face film measuring 2.75 mil thick. Until now, it’s been characterized by 57 gloss and two matte colors. As an economy calendared vinyl, it’s designed primarily for application on flat surfaces and simple curves. And because it’s an ORACAL product, the face film is relatively stiff and dense. This makes it easy to weed, but not so easy to release. More on that later.
641 comes on a permanent acrylic adhesive. This is a bit of a misnomer because any adhesive will become permanent over time, but permanent adhesives achieve their full bonding power more quickly than removable adhesives. After 24 hours, the measured adhesive strength of ORACAL 641 on stainless steel is 3.7lb/in².
641 comes on an 84# silicone-coated release liner. ORACAL’s technical data bulletin claims the liner provides “excellent weeding and release values”. Well, yeah. Sort of. ORACAL vinyl is known and loved for its excellent weeding values. The reason it’s so easy to weed is the vinyl’s tight adhesion to the liner. It doesn’t come up unless you work at it. This makes weeding a breeze. Release, not so much. Sometimes you have to turn your graphics face down and remove the liner from the top. This technique, referred to here as the ‘Oracal flip tip’ is the price you pay for that awesome weeding. High-tack tape is required. Consult our Transfer Tape and Vinyl Application Guide for details.
One of the other significant characteristics of ORACAL 641, and ORAFOL products in particular, isn’t found on the tech data bulletin. It’s found in the factory. They operate some of the industry’s most technologically advanced manufacturing facilities. This produces a remarkable degree of consistency. A ‘bad batch’ of ORACAL vinyl is a rarity. This is one of the attributes sign makers have come to rely on over the years.
Advantages & Trade-offs: 631 vs 641 Matte
So now that we’ve reviewed the specs for ORACAL 641, the nagging question is, why would you use 641 matte instead of 631, which, by the way, comes in over 70 matte colors. They’re both economy monomeric calendared vinyls. They both have that stiff, dense face film that makes weeding a breeze. They’re both extremely well made and wonderfully consistent. So how do they differ? What are the advantages and tradeoffs of 641 matte? We can sum it up in two words: thinner and stickier. But we’ll add a few more for clarity.
Thinner: ORACAL 631 is a 3-mil film. As noted above, 641 is a 2.75 mil vinyl, so it’s slightly more conformable. The thinner face film should be more supple and easier to apply to non-smooth or curved surfaces in general. This should address one of 631’s most frustrating limitations. As an economy 3-mil film, it’s not terribly conformable and can be hard to apply to textured and/or porous surfaces. The fact that it has a low-tack adhesive makes this even more challenging because it requires high tack tape to remove it from the liner. Finding the balance between release and application for graphics on textured walls can be a challenge (link to blog). This brings us to the ‘stickier’ part.
Stickier: ORACAL 631 has an adhesive rating of only 1.7 lb./in². 641’s permanent adhesive is more than twice as aggressive. This should make it easier to apply 641 matte to challenging surfaces. And now for big bold word of caution; using any vinyl with a permanent adhesive on painted interior walls is not a good idea unless you are prepared to:
- Leave the graphic in place indefinitely (hence the term ‘permanent’)
- Repaint the wall after you remove it. Because it will most likely take some paint with it.
But if you’ve been using 631 on things like wood, stainless steel, glass, laptops, furniture, filing cabinets, floors and doors, you may find 641 matte easier to apply. And should you decide to take your matte vinyl graphics outdoors, they’ll last 25% longer. 641 is rated for four years outdoors. 631’s expected outdoor life is three.
Selection: Sizes, Colors, Prices.
As noted above, the ORACAL 641 palette now includes 21 matte colors. This is in addition to an existing palette of 59 gloss colors, which is almost unheard of in an economy calendared vinyl. The new matte colors strike a good balance between a traditional sign industry palette and the pastels more popular in the craft world. The matte palette includes black, white, burgundy, mint, carnation pink, turquoise, and two gold metallics. There’s something for everyone. In keeping with company tradition, ORACAL manufactures it in 15” punched widths for Gerber holdouts and 24” for the rest of us. We offer them in ten and fifty-yard rolls. Prices start at only $14.29 for a 15” x 10-yard roll.
641 Matte Vinyl Applications
So, what can you do with a matte calendared vinyl with a permanent adhesive? Just about anything that doesn’t require adhesion on compound curves, long term outdoor exposure, or clean removability. The immediate interest seems to be coming from crafters decorating laptops, cookie jars, filing cabinets, wood signs, mirrors, shower doors, corn toss boards, nephews, etc. But there are lots of commercial applications for a matte permanent vinyl as well including indoor banners, branding, and product customization. Got a cool application idea of your own? Feel free to drop it in the comments field below.